Telluride, or as you may have heard it called “To-Hell-You-Ride”. This nickname was given to the location for the dangerous mountain journey the Victorian Era miners who settled the town had to endure when finding work in the area.
Nestled within the San Juan Mountain Range of southern Colorado, the town is now a quaint reminder of days gone by. Its historical significance is balanced by its newer modern amenities and the closely connected town of Mountain Village. However, being surrounded by the highest density of 14,000+ foot peaks in North America, it’s easy to forget you’re at a ski resort, and not deep in some wild isolated mountain range after all!
Telluride sits in a box canyon, a valley enclosed by steep, jagged peaks. Though the mining in Telluride has come to an end, the mountains are full of adventure. Through a combination of dependable yearly snowfall totals, world-class terrain for all skill levels, endless après, and fitting accommodations for the whole family, Telluride has firmly established itself as an icon of the American ski scene.
Things we like:
Telluride is a fantastic all-arounder. From the town, to the village, to the skiing, and the on-the-mountain amenities, Telluride has it all!
Telluride may be known for its advanced and expert riding foremost, but they do have a plethora of beginner and intermediate options.
They break their trail ratings up into 6 difficulties, this allows riders to progress easily without getting in over their heads.
The scenery at Telluride is some of the best in Colorado.
3 terrain parks offer progressive riding for everyone from beginners to olympians.
The advanced and expert terrain is world class.
Telluride has a limited number of days through the Epic pass.
Things we don't like:
- Telluride is a bit “out of the way” compared to the Summit County resorts near Denver. Regional airports will get you closer, but Telluride is located 330 miles from Denver.
- It’s pricey. Lift tickets are over $200 per ticket. A family trip to Telluride is not going to be a budget affair.
- Lodging in Telluride is fairly expensive compared to other resorts.
Where to Book:
- Chairlifts: 17 incl. 2 gondolas, 6 super-quads, 1 quad, 2 triple chairs, 2 double chairs, and 4 surface lifts.
- Avg. Snowfall: 330+ inches
- Season: mid-Nov to mid-April
- Runs: 148
- Beginner: 16%
- Intermediate: 30%
- Advanced/Expert: 55%
- Vertical: 8,725 – 13150 feet
- Kids Ski School: from 3-14 years old.
- Accommodations: Multiple hotels and rentals located in the village.
- Daycare: Yes
Telluride is known, foremost, for its striking resort scenery. With vertigo-inducing peaks on all sides and a ski-in ski-out village, one can easily forget they’re in the American Southwest and maybe even mistake the area for a subset of the European alps.
From the base area to the summit, Telluride spans 3845 vertical feet of lift-served terrain and 4425 feet of vertical gain including the hike-to runs. It is one of the more prominent mountain resorts in the Epic Pass club.
With an average of 330 inches of snow and 240 sunny days per year, visitors will be equally as blown away by the riding, as they are the views. Telluride has 148 marked trails, 16% of which are for beginners, 30% are intermediate, and 54% of which are for advanced or expert riders.
You’ll find that the trail marking system is a bit different than you might be used to at other ski resorts.
Rather than the traditional green circle, blue square, black and double black diamond you’re accustomed to, Telluride has 7 ratings. The ratings are divided as such: 1 or 2 green circles are for beginners and will be the easiest runs on the mountain, 1 or 2 blue squares denote intermediate trails, and 1 or 2 black diamonds is for experts only. Finally, the last rating is 2 black diamonds with the letters “EX”, these trails are for seasoned experts and can consist of ungroomed terrain featuring chutes, glades, cliffs, potential unmarked obstacles, and rocks.
It’s worth noting that Telluride is known for its challenging terrain, so a double blue run will likely be more similar to a black diamond at other Colorado resorts. This rating system may take some adjusting to, but most riders find it helps them gauge their progression on the mountain, and helps them to choose trails best suited to their ability level. Don’t let this notion of difficult riding at Telluride deter you though, Telluride is full of terrain that suits riders of all ability levels.
Telluride has a system of 17 lifts serving the mountain. Of these 19 lifts, there are 2 gondolas, 6 high-speed super-quads, 1 quad chair, 2 triple chairs, 2 double chairs, and 4 surface lifts. This system is able to move an impressive 22,000+ skiers per hour. To answer your question, yes, that means extremely limited lift lines, if you happen to get stuck in a line at all.
If you’re seeking to “earn your turns”, Telluride offers some of the best inbounds hike-to skiing in the country. The beauty of this access is the ability to ski off-piste, big mountain style lines while still remaining within the confines of the resort, meaning that avalanche control has been done before lines are opened, and ski patrol is available.
Hikes can range anywhere from brief and manageable, like hiking to the Black Iron Bowls, all the way to full-on 2+ hour adventures that require confidence navigating rocky and insecure terrain in ski boots, like Palmyra Peak.
One should take care not to get in over their head. Even runs a mere 5-10 minute hike away from lift service, like the “Genevieve”, are still rated black or double black, and should be attempted by experts only. Terrain like this can be consequential, and rescue times can be extended.
For those that enjoy riding park, Telluride has a lot to offer. If you’re a total beginner or an Olympic champion, you can find your line in one of the three terrain parks in Telluride. Beginners will be most comfortable at the Ute Park Terrain Park. It has two lines, one for beginners and one for intermediate riders.
The beginner line has everything from rollers and bank turns to small jumps and ride-on features, like boxes and rails.
The intermediate line offers 5-15 foot jumps, boxes, rails, and a wide variety of other features. Advanced riders can find their stride in the Hoot Brown Intermediate Terrain Park. Not only are there standard park features, like rails, boxes, and barrel rollovers, the jump lines in this park range from 10 to 20 feet.
Finally, for experts and professional riders, the Hoot Brown Advanced Terrain Park takes freestyle riding to the next level. Daring features that are too numerous to name are set alongside a progressive jump line with jumps ranging from 25 to 50 feet. Even if you’ve never set foot (or boot, for that matter) in a terrain park, Telluride is a great place to give it a shot, with features the whole family can enjoy.
Telluride is located in Southwestern Colorado, about 330 miles from Denver. For locals, the drive is very manageable from Denver, Durango, and Montrose Colorado, as well as from surrounding states like Arizona and New Mexico. If you’re flying in, you’ll have several options. Regional airports dot the map in Colorado, and shuttle service via the Telluride Express is offered to Telluride, Montrose, Grand Junction, Durango, Cortez, and Gunnison regional airports. From select airports you may also be able to find connecting flights to the Telluride Regional Airport, making access even easier. Flying into Denver may be the most accessible for many visitors, but keep in mind that you will need to find a way to drive down to Telluride, and that drive runs roughly 6 hours.
Telluride, like many Colorado ski towns, has many of the amenities that anyone could need, all within walking distance. Hotels are abundant in Telluride. When considering a visit, note that the town of Telluride and the town of Mountain Village are actually separate entities.
Though it’s not all that important to plan where you stay based on that, as the towns are connected by a free gondola ride that takes 13 minutes terminal-to-terminal.
The reality of most mountain towns holds true in Telluride, it’s not cheap to stay there. It’s worth your while to plan your trip ahead to try and save money on hotel prices, that way you can enjoy the amenities of staying minutes from the mountain while also not breaking the bank.
If budget is not an issue, it would be worth your while to stay at the Mountain Lodge in Mountain Village. This ski-in and ski-out lodge provide direct access to runs in the Telluride ski area, meaning you can walk out the front door, click into your skis, and be on the mountain in minutes.
For those visiting Telluride with their canine companions, Telluride is a dog-friendly town! Many restaurants will allow dogs on their patios, which you can expect to be heated in the winter. Shops will often set out bowls of water for passersby with their four-legged friends in tow. If you’re worried about leaving your dog behind while you hit the slopes, there are a multitude of highly rated dog boarding options available.
When visiting Telluride, you can expect to find all your needs met. The hotels in Telluride are high-end, as reflected by their nightly rate. You will have access to pools, hot tubs, hotel gyms, and other complimentary offerings. In town, you’ll also have your pick of the litter when it comes to spas, massage parlors, yoga classes, and wellness centers.
The Peaks Resort and Spa is definitely worth checking out if you have the means.
Suffice it to say that if you aren’t in Telluride for skiing, or need a break from the mountain, you’ll have plenty of options, just take a stroll through town and find your niche!
Families and Kids
Telluride is a great resort to visit with the family. The town and resort are set up to be easily walkable, which makes getting the whole family around town a breeze. Additionally, there is suitable terrain for all skill levels. This means that if you’re visiting with young children that are new to skiing or snowboarding, they’ll have plenty of enjoyable terrain options that won’t be overwhelming.
If you’re visiting the resort with kids that are too young to ski, Telluride offers childcare at the resort at the Telluride Cub’s Camp Nursery. They provide a great and safe environment for your young ones while you enjoy the mountain. Day care is available Monday through Friday from 8:30AM to 4PM, they also offer half day care in the mornings from 8:30AM to 12:30PM. Reservations are required though, so be sure to plan ahead!
For children that are ready to start skiing, Telluride has a ski school offering youth lessons. Children can enroll in group lessons at the ski school from ages 3-14. Gear rentals can be bundled with lessons.
Telluride is open to snowboarders! The terrain at Telluride is equally as great for snowboarding as it is for skiing, and the terrain park features are well suited to snowboarders.
After a long day of tearing up the incredible terrain at Telluride, you’ll be ready to relax and recount your adventures on the mountain with friends and family. You’ll be happy to know that Telluride is home to a number of 4 and 5 star restaurants offering a wide variety of food. In addition to fine dining, you’ll be able to find ski-lodge style food on the hill, and various gastropub style restaurants offering a variety of eats.
There’s a plethora of shopping spread throughout Telluride if that’s what you’re looking for. You’ll find everything from high-end shops with designer clothing and jewelry, to shops adventurous types know and love, like Patagonia. If you’re looking for keepsakes, there are plenty of stores offering souvenirs and t-shirts to commemorate your visit.
When you’re ready to finish the day off with some drinks, you can tuck into any number of breweries and bars. Telluride is home to the nationally known Telluride Brewing Company where you can find locally brewed beers. This is only one of multiple great breweries in the area to stop at. Telluride isn’t home to just breweries, walking down the street you’ll be able to take your pick of great bars, of which you really can’t go wrong. Don’t overthink your apres!
Pro Tip: Be sure to stop off at Brown Dog Pizza. This locale is known for its amazing Detroit style pizza. They were the 1st place winner of the Pizza World Championships in Parma, Italy! No trip to Telluride is complete without a visit to Brown Dog Pizza.
The Bottom Line
Overall, Telluride is worth it. No matter what kind of rider you are, you’re sure to find terrain to suit you at this Resort. When you combine great access to all styles of riding on variable types of terrain with smaller crowds and less lines than comparable resorts, you’re sure to have a great time. As with many resorts nowadays, however, Telluride isn’t cheap. If you’re not traveling on a budget, this shouldn’t prove to be an issue, and you’ll find that the great location, riding, and amenities make the price tag worthwhile. If you’re a local hoping to get in plenty of days this season, and trying to find the right mountain for you, you’ll be happy to know that Telluride is on the Epic Pass. The upfront cost of the Epic Pass is well worth it when you’re faced with the near $200 cost of a day pass at Telluride. If traveling on a budget, Telluride probably won’t provide you with the most bang for your buck, and you’re likely to have a better time with less financial stress at a smaller, independent resort.
That being said, everyone should try to make the trip to Telluride to experience it for themselves, even if only for a day!
Frequently asked questions
Telluride is located in an amazing pocket, nestled within the San Juan Mountain Range of southern Colorado, about 340 miles southwest of Denver
Montrose Regional Airport is located 65 miles away from Telluride Resort. From there, several buses and shuttles service people trying to get to Telluride in the San Juan Mountains.